Solid opening play in Lady Warrior Classic

By Ivan Sanders

   Coach Kenneth Chambers knows that patience is of the essence with his youthful Lady Rangers squad. He realizes that the pieces of a successful basketball future are all there, it's just getting them to fit together right.
   The Lady Rangers fought tooth and nail with the Lady Rebels of Sullivan South on opening evening of the Lady Warrior Thanksgiving Classic being held at Bayless Gym before falling 49-29. The Rebels finally managed to overcome the Lady Rangers after a close first half of basketball.
   Led by Ashley Prendergast with six points, the Lady Rebels were able to take a 10 point edge to the locker room at half time. Kelly Taylor did her part in keeping Unaka in the hunt with six points of her own, hitting two big three's. The Rangers were only able to net two points in the second quarter to nine from the Rebels.
   The Lady Rangers came out in a defensive state of mind to start the second half, as they constantly hounded the Rebel ball handlers into some quick turnovers. Rebel coach Jeremy Jenkins called a quick time-out at the 5:36 mark of the third quarter to calm his troops down after the Lady Rangers climbed within seven at 25-18.
   The Lady Rebels responded by going on a seven to zero run in a span of 41 seconds that all but sealed the fate of the Rangers for the night. At the end of the quarter, South held a 16-point advantage 36-20.
   The Lady Rangers never let up in the fourth as they were able to keep South from scoring for almost two minutes. Meanwhile, the Rangers continued to whittle away at the lead, only to see South go on another short run to end all Ranger hopes.
   Prendergast finished the night with 14 points on six of eight from the field and two of two from the charity stripe. Holly Jones contributed nine and Chantai Campbell added eight for South.
   Taylor finished with seven, as did Amy Campbell in leading the Rangers. Julie Roberson chipped in six, while sister Mandy Roberson netted five. Coty Townsend and Danielle Ensor finished off the scoring with three and one respectively.
   "Our half-court defense basically shut down everything Unaka tried to run," according to Coach Jenkins of South. "We don't have any superstars and our bench just played fantastic for us tonight. The pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together."
   Chambers stated that he felt like his team played well. "We boxed out really well on the boards tonight, they just played better than we did. We are going to keep working to be a better ball team, and I think by tournament time we should be able to compete with some people."
   South will match up with host Happy Valley at 9 p.m. Friday, while the Lady Rangers will take on the Central Cougars who were defeated in the first contest of the tournament by Science Hill 63-53. Game time for the Rangers will be 7:30 p.m. on Friday as well.

Cloudland edges Hampton 41-39

ÊÊÊ   The rivalry was just made a little hotter, as the Lady Landers handed a talented Lady Bulldog squad a one point barn-burning defeat in the final game of the Lady Warrior Classic on Wednesday.
   Hampton roared out to a 14-5 first quarter lead behind the dead-eye shooting of guard Kari Stout, pumping in nine points. The Lady Landers seemed to be a little out of sync in the quarter, but they finally worked out the nervousness quickly as they began the second.
   Behind five points off the hand of Tara Hanson, the Landers made a valiant comeback as they chopped the nine point deficit to five going into the intermission. April Williams came off the bench and provided a large spark for Cloudland as she tallied four in the quarter, but it was her defensive prowess that made the difference.
   The second half was one that any high school basketball fan would appreciate. Both teams were nip and tuck as Cloudland managed to outscore the Lady Bulldogs 10-8 heading into the fourth-and-decisive period. Stout continued her hot hand in the quarter, as she registered six for the Bulldogs.
   The fourth quarter belonged to the Lady Landers and Taukia Hughes. Hughes drilled two long range three's plus a deuce to score eight in the period. One of Hughes threes tied the score at 35-35 with 2:36 showing in the contest.
   Stout gave the Bulldogs a two point lead at 2:10 left. Hughes then drained the bottom of the net with her second trey to give the Landers a one point lead. Alison Pierce would give the Bulldogs the edge back, as she sank a shot in the paint.
   Cloudland then went to their big center Amy Storie, who kissed the glass with a left-handed shot over two defenders, giving the Landers a 40-39 lead.
   Hampton tried to set something up in the last :22 seconds, but were held off by the pesky Landers as Hanson went to the line and hit the front end of a one-and-one to increase the lead to 41-39. Hampton tried to set a play, but came up short as Stout hit the rim from a half-court shot as the buzzer sounded.
   Stout paced Hampton with 22 and Pierce added six. For Cloudland, Hughes netted 12, followed by Hanson with 10, and Williams contributing eight off the bench.
   Coach Matt Birchfield was proud of his team's performance. " We started slow due to their strong press, but we fought back hard. I think we had the jitters early, and then stepped it up down the stretch."
   Birchfield felt like the win would be a good tone-setter for the rest of the season for the Lady Landers. They will get another solid test as they take on Science Hill Friday night.